Durban - The killing of two cousins at KwaMashu Hostel this week could be linked to a land claim conflict originating from a village near Estcourt, where several attacks and the burning of homes have caused their family to flee to safety.
Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said on Thursday that all efforts should be made to stop the conflict from escalating.
The Zwane cousins - Khumbulani, 19, and Thamsanqa, 21, died in a hail of bullets at the hostel, at about 5am on Tuesday, after the younger one had sought sanctuary there when his home in the KwaVumbu village came under attack.
“This conflict, which has something to do with the land dispute, has already led to the killing of one person and the burning of four houses in the area,” Mchunu said.
The attacks were escalating despite several interventions by the provincial government.
While police have been deployed to monitor the situation at the hostel, the department’s spokesman, Sipho Khumalo, said officials had also been sent to the village.
“Our teams are… talking to people so as to stabilise the area and to assure people that the matter is being investigated by the police,” Khumalo said.
Mchunu urged those with information on who might be responsible for the killings to assist the police.
Khumbulani’s father, Zwela Zwane, who is also a ward councillor in the area, said on Thursday that the attacks on his family had been going on for three years.
He believed the killing of his son and other members of his extended family were meant to force them to move from the land.
“It involves me in a way. I had applied for a piece from a farmer who owns the land to open a road in his land. The farmer approved this and agreed for me to open the road,” Zwane said.
However, after the granting of his request, there had been several attacks on his family, allegedly by other locals who wanted to claim the land back from the farmer, he said.
“And it was said I had claimed a title deed of the land. Now this has become a complex issue.” Zwane said a total of five people had been killed over the past three years because of the dispute.
“It has intensified now. After my son was almost killed two months ago, I had to send him to Durban to hide with his uncle. Things are bad and we had to send our families to different hideouts.”
He said the Grade 11 pupil had to abandon school, to escape the violent attacks.
“I am also in hiding away from my family because I don’t want them (the attackers) to find me with them; they would kill us all,” he said.
Zwane said his son had been hiding with his uncle, Simon Zwane, at KwaMashu Hostel.
Simon’s son, Thamsanqa, had been visited his father at the hostel when he was killed with Khumbulani.
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said Khumbulani and Thamsanqa were found with bullet wounds to the neck, back, arms and chest.